OBJECTIVES: This study evaluated a behavioural model of the relation between social factors and obesity, in which differences in body mass index (BMI) across sociodemographic groups were hypothesized to be attributable to social group differences in health behaviours affecting energy expenditure (physical activity, diet and alcohol consumption and weight control).
METHODS: A total of 8667 adults who participated in the 1995 Australian National Health and Nutrition Surveys provided data on a range of health factors including objectively measured height and weight, health behaviours, and social factors including family status, employment status, housing situation and migration status.
RESULTS: Social factors remained significant predictors of BMI after controlling for all health behaviours. Neither social factors alone, nor health behaviours alone, adequately explained the variance in BMI. Gender-specific interactions were found between social factors and individual health behaviours.
CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that social factors moderate the relation between BMI and weight-related behaviours, and that the mechanisms underlying sociodemographic group differences in obesity may vary among men and women. Additional factors are likely to act in conjunction with current health behaviours to explain variation in obesity prevalence across sociodemographic groups.
Field of Research
111199 Nutrition and Dietetics not elsewhere classified
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